The weather was really pleasant as I left home at about 8am heading towards Strathdon. Today I planned to activate a couple of 2 pointers in an attempt to re-gain my hill fitness and to bag a unique (for me).
Parking for Lord Arthur’s Hill is a problem, there is no safe space to park on the A944 so I left the car by the telephone box at NJ476195. Access is via the farm track to Edinbanchory and this was quite muddy. Where the track splits at the farm take the left fork to Park of Brux. Pass through the farm and past the shed which, yesterday, held young cattle. The next stretch is not pleasant as the track (for those of you of nervous disposition or eating your breakfast, look away now) is covered in liquefied droppings (euphemism) to a depth greater than the average boot! No problem, as the path bends right to pass through a gate into a field there is a free flowing burn to clean off in (and to throw the dogs in, they had decided that the track was covered in the ideal fur conditioner!). Head up the field keeping to the left side, your target is a gate through a fence next to a building at NJ485204. This will involve crossing a fence line but if you keep right the ground is not (too) boggy. The gate has to be climbed, it does not open easily, but from here on the navigation is a doddle. Take the path heading up the hill onto Edinbanchory hill and stay with this track to its highest point below ES-062 to minimise the amount of terrain covered in knee breaking heather to be crossed to reach the summit. The summit is crowned with a trig point and a very substantial shelter wall some distance away, perfectly aligned to sit in and operate.
The antenna went up without problems – no wind and the sun was shining – and I was soon qrv not far off from the advised time. A CQ on 5 MHz (FE) brought an immediate response from G0HNW with excellent signal reports both ways and on finishing it sounded as if the world had dropped in on me – I have not had a pile-up like this for a very long time. Please forgive me for not mentioning all contacts as I worked 21 stations in a space of 20 minutes, hopefully not missing anybody. A QSY to 40m brought a cacophony of BC stations in the top half, I did call for about 5 minutes but vain hope. I moved down the band but once again it was wall to wall. Timing to reach the second hill being crucial (I wanted to operate while the critical frequency was still above 5MHz and it dies earlier up here than down south) so I reluctantly packed-up and headed off. The return route was the same as the approach until just after passing a grouse butt on my left where a line of the old drove road straight back to the farm could be seen. I followed this – it is heavily overgrown with heather and whins so probably would not make a good approach. This involves several gates and an electric fence to be crossed too.
I drove to Pressendye and parked the car on the roadside at NJ504112 and followed the route I had previously used past the farm (and the VERY expensive steading conversion) to NJ500107 where somebody had planted a fully mature tree (complete with bracing) smack on the path and had then obstructed the path with more barbed wire than had been used on the Somme. I was then berated by a woman that this was private ground and “we do not like people walking past our houses” and this was not a public right of way (it is). Obviously she has not heard of the Scottish Right of Access laws!! I managed to sweet talk my way out to continue, join the forest track and head up to the ridge. Keepers were driving onto the ridge in their pick-ups to clear traps but that was all the life I had seen on the hills all day. The weather was a complete contrast to the morning – cold and overcast – but not windy so the antenna was put up, a little later than planned, I am not as hill fit as I would like and off we set. G0HNW again and then the world - 29 stations in a space of 24 minutes – and it was obvious the band was closing rapidly with very deep qsb and also a strange “deadening” of signals which sounded as if there was a co-channel carrier zero beat but which didn’t give a tone if I used RIT. I think that this time I got everyone. A switch to 40m showed that the band had gone to very long skip and, as it was starting to get dark I headed off. Following the ridge and down through the forest to complete a loop – shame about all the trees down across the path each of which had to be negotiated to get past.
All in all a great day out, good weather and a superb number of qso’s; my thanks to all chasers (and to INK for the summit to summit) and my apologies for my bumbledom in logging – the Palm just didn’t want to play!